It’s been 16 years now since I was diagnosed with a Deep Vein Thrombosis and a Pulmonary Embolism, DVT and PE. I had just given birth in December 2000. It was a fairly difficult labor, but the aftermath was wonderful. My baby was here and I couldn’t have been happier! I had returned to work late February 2001 and everything was going well. In March, I slid down my stairs and stopped myself by jamming my foot on the door frame at the bottom of the steps. I broke a few toes and had to go to one of those express medical facilities. With a four-month-old, going to the ER was out of the question. Too long of a wait!
We got there and the Dr stitched me up and gave me a tetanus shot. I had to go back a week later because nothing had improved. He said that I may have done damage to my hamstring and to keep my leg still. WORST MISTAKE EVER. A few weeks later, I was finally able to move around and I was getting winded easily. I was in a store getting something and the cashier asked me when I was due. I hadn’t lost my belly and being winded? It was a logical question. I ended up going to my Dr and she told me to go to the ER. My leg was swollen and cool to the touch.
I went and got scanned. I had a DVT from my mid-calf to mid-thigh. The sucker was huge! Because it was above my knee, they admitted me to the hospital and hooked me up to an IV of heparin. They assured me that I most likely didn’t have a PE. A day or so later, I was still in the hospital. My husband at that time was there with our baby. I overheard the nurse saying there was a misread of my results. I called her in and asked what she meant. She advised that since she was a nurse, she wasn’t allowed to discuss the results. Only the Dr could do that. I demanded that they get the Dr in immediately.
I wasn’t trying to be difficult, but I had remembered the Dr saying, if there was a PE, I would have less than a five percent chance of surviving it. No way was I playing around. I wanted answers and I wanted them immediately. The Dr came in about half an hour later and confirmed that I did have a DVT and PE. This combination is dangerous. Research showed that having a DVT and PE had a higher death rate than breast cancer and AIDs combined. Side note: I have always had an irrational fear of death. But when I was faced with my mortality at that time? My first fear was my baby growing up without a mom.
So, not such a spoiler alert. I survived, beat the odds and made it home. I was no longer allowed on birth control pills since blood clots are a known side effect.
Seven years later, in 2008, I was divorced and had started another relationship. I reached out to my Dr about going back on birth control. We ran all the tests and my numbers came back clear. I didn’t have the marker for clots. So the one in 2001 was trauma induced. I went back on the pill. A few months later, I flew to California to visit a friend. This was something already planned before going back on the pill. So, I did all the right things. I got up every hour and walked up and down the aisle. I stood back where the flight attendants were and did calf raises and moved my legs. In my seat, I was constantly rotating my ankle. I wore very loose clothing and drank a lot of water.
A week after I got home, I felt a pain in the back of my knee. Where you bend your leg. I waited a day and it still didn’t go away. Even with aleve. So, I wasn’t taking any chances. I called my Dr and sure enough, she told me not to bother coming into her office. Go straight to the ER. They did a scan and yep. ANOTHER DVT. This one was caught early and didn’t progress to a PE. They didn’t keep me in the hospital but gave me needles to inject into my belly area for two weeks before going back on Coumadin (Warfarin). I do NOT like needles. Having to give them to myself? An absolute nightmare.
Obviously, removed from the pill. There were no other causes, so that was the logical course of action. I was on blood thinners for a couple years that time. Now, when I travel, I start taking baby aspirin a week before I fly, during the time I am on vacation or business trip and a week after. I never got into wearing Compression Socks, but I know that I need to! So up to three weeks, I take the baby aspirin daily. I haven’t had an issue with another DVT and PE since. When I travel by car, I take a Resistance Band to work my legs and keep them moving when I’m in the passenger seat.
My blood tests still come out clear, showing that I do not have the marker for blood clots. So, for the second DVT, it had to have been the pill. I was on YAZ and joined that class action lawsuit against the makers of YAZ a few years later. We won. The amount awarded paid off most of my debt. Which I was grateful for because I was laid off at the time and had accrued debt due to having to use my credit card more.